Is this a socialist moment?

Is this a socialist moment? I hear this question when I travel. So here is the answer I usually give when asked at public meetings.

It depends on how we understand a "socialist moment." If it means that the American people in their majority are insisting on a socialism transformation of society, there is little evidence for it.

People are angry and frustrated; they want change; they are ready to struggle for jobs and relief, health care, public education, housing assistance and so on. But are they demanding a system change, a socialist society? Not yet. To say otherwise seems like a stretch to me.

If, however, what is meant is that many more people are ready to give socialism a hearing, not reject it out of hand, then I would say, "Yes, this is a ‘socialist moment'." This is no small thing. It wasn't that long ago that socialism didn't have much currency among broad sections of the American people. It was considered a failed model, undemocratic and worse, a bankrupt idea - something best consigned to history.

In fact, the ideologues of capitalism thought they had buried the socialist idea once and for all, but to their chagrin the genie is once again out of the bottle, thanks in large measure to the conditions buffeting the domestic and world economy. It is not economic determinism to say that force of economic circumstance and the crisis of everyday living for tens of millions is shaping and reshaping mass thinking, although in contradictory ways.

Communists and socialists should welcome the rebirth of this dialogue on socialism and eagerly participate in it.

Like everything else our vision of socialism needs to adjust to new conditions (economic crisis) and challenges (economic and environmental sustainability, nuclear disarmament, world poverty and inequality) as well as examine the experience of socialism in the 20th century.

After all, there are no universal models into which every country fits. The cloth of socialist experience is a beautiful weave of many colors and threads, not a drab monotonous gray. Each country fashions a socialism that bears a deep imprint of its own history, politics, economics and culture.

The experience of successful and unsuccessful socialist revolutions and societies has to be filtered carefully into our national context. In no case can those experiences be uncritically and simplistically imported.

As Gus Hall, the former leader of the Communist Party USA, said on many occasions, "We are for Bill of Rights Socialism," referring to our nation's Bill of Rights, which in his view would be preserved and expanded upon in a socialist society in the United States.

 

 

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.

Comments

  • To DP: Nobody would ever want to go live in North Korea or Cuba. China is doing alright but they are more capitalist now than ever. And neither North Korea nor Cuba are communist. Any chance they ever had at being successful communist or socialist nations was trampled by the US's efforts to make communism seem like a terrible idea, and give its own workers better benefits so there would be no revolution. That is how it is now. Constitutional America was a great place to live if you were not a woman or any other color than white. The truth is we had slaves. At this point our slaves are on other countries under oppressive governments that the US supports! Look at the history of Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua. Look where the US gets most of its goods; China and China even gets some of their goods from North Korean Gulags. The US couldn't have the wealth it has without relying on downtrodden people elsewhere. A global system without money is the only way Communism can prevail, that is the very base of communist ideology. It also calls for complete equality of all races and gender and looks to balance the playing field by eradicating religious systems so that people rely on themselves and each other. Is that a terrible idea? Is it inherently flawed? Are humans too stupid to accomplish it? I don't think so! I think that we should always be moving towards these goals and stamp out mass concentrations of wealth, power and waste whenever possible. Then and only then will we be able to achieve world piece.

    Posted by Jim Redding, 04/09/2011 4:37pm (4 years ago)

  • stand up you victems of oppression for the tyrants fear your might. don't cling too hard to your possessions ,you have nothing if you don't have any rights. (a recovering republican)

    Posted by j gianokas, 02/23/2011 6:15pm (4 years ago)

  • Though I realize most, if not all Marx’s original aspects of communism have been in one way or another enacted as law by our government over the years, I ask how these "laws" are legal? Furthermore, I ask how any aspect of Communism is legal under the supreme law of this land?

    I believe you should go live in North Korea, China, maybe even Cuba for 5 or 10 years to see how well Communism works before you seek to finish imposing it on the last hope for freedom on this planet.

    Posted by DP, 10/04/2010 3:28am (4 years ago)

  • I would have to agree with this article. Americans generally have a phobia and misconception of Socialism, due largely to the Cold War propaganda. I find that the younger generation of Americans do not have such a phobia but a hazy understanding of Socialism.

    Posted by Stephen, 08/01/2010 1:23am (4 years ago)

  • Ahh, the absurd contradictions of some of these comments. That one by Capitalist Pig is so silly I think it's satire now.

    To Al: I'm just checking out the communist party for the first time after having ideas of creating an entirely new one. I'm liking what I see so far, but I'm sure a cricket with a top-hat would seem like a better alternative than what we have now.

    To Leader Ya: The threat of turning into a dictatorship is a threat that we should be weary of from all types of government. A lot of people associate socialism or communism with their government(Proleatarian Dictatorship? :P), which makes sense, but there needs to be discussion on the difference between a communist government and an American government with a communist party in charge.

    To mark: I understand your frustration. But your blaming socialism which is a wrecklessly thrown-about word in todays politics and economics.

    The word, instead of socialist, should perhaps be Fascist. This government is turning into fascism, that is, the merging between business and government. Crony-capitalism sounds good, but fascism sounds better :P

    I pretty much agree that business and government should be separate entities, however the government should have the right to protect it's citizens from unlawful business practices. The big banks should have been allowed to fail, I agree, in order that banks with better practices would fill the gap, after a deeper(but much shorter lasting) recession.

    It doesn't help that politicians continually take from the social security fund whenever they don't meet their budget in other areas. And are you saying we should abolish those? Then what would be your solution? Those institutions exist for a reason.

    There isn't any socialist democracy in Europe domino-effect that I've noticed. In-fact I've noticed that Europe is looking better and better off as time goes on. Did you know, the standard would currency could be switched to the Euro? America is 'unusually unstable' these days, as recently stated by Ben Bernanke. Greece had too big of a deficit and now other states in Europe are helping them out.

    While I'm not sure of what the Communist Party actually wants for America. I envision Communism as a valiant defender of the constitution against the Fasco-Capitalists. Where communism's involvement in the economy is limited to reducing big-business' power over the government, and indeed letting the entrepreneurs take over(if not subsidize new businesses as well).

    In the end mark, you have a lot of valid points, but communism is a solution, not a problem. What you thought were socialists ideas were really fascist. Case in point - what Communist Party members were responsible for anything you hate in America? Democrats and Republicans are what we should be vilifying in America, not the ever present 'Red-threat'

    To Jesse: I don't know of any Constitutional Republics with socialist leaders, a socialist republic is different than a constitutional republic with socialist leaders.

    Are you so ignorant as to where you don't see 'big brothers' impact on us today? the 'big brother' I see, however, is one that doesn't give handouts, but instead takes. Big brother is all around us, the question now isn't if we should fear its existence, but how we should alter it. And handouts sounds better to me than a prison-state.

    And if you want personal liberties, why are you not up in arms(perhaps literally) against Obama and the internet kill-switch bill? Or against the patriot act which essentially has destroyed Habeas Corpus? Or the Arizona immigration bill? Anyone who knows anything about American history will see that the Communist Party in America has never been anything but true patriots, people who believe in the integrity of the constitution and civil liberties. For example, during either World War 1 or 2, I forget which but they both utilized anti-red propaganda, a Communist Party leader was arrested for citing part of the constitution, he ran from prison and got a decent amount of the vote.

    1984 is happening today in America, seriously I hate that you probably won't even read this because it pisses me off - We are in 1984. A protracted war with no real end? - The war on terror. The cold war was the same thing. Ever since WW2 this nation hasn't been the same. Open your eyes.

    "...and I definitely don't want to pay your way..."

    *rage boils up inside* WELL I DONT WANT TO PAY FOR YOUR GOD-DAMNED WARS OF AGGRESSION! I DON'T LIKE BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KILLING OF FREEDOM FIGHTERS IN AFGHANISTAN OR IRAQ!

    Fuck your Democrats and your Republicans, the only person with a lick of sense I've seen in congress is Ron Paul.

    Btw, 'paying each others way' so to speak is the purpose of government. Individuals can't afford things such as military's, healthcare, school systems, or law enforcement.

    Posted by Brandon, 07/22/2010 8:05pm (4 years ago)

  • You commies can have my freedom when you pry my gun from my hands. I am not advocating violence but how dare you somehow suggest that the limitation of personal freedom is somehow better for society as a whole.

    Posted by Capitalist pig, 06/25/2010 12:00pm (5 years ago)

  • i 'm afraid that it would gradually turn into a form of dictatorship

    Posted by Leader Ya, 05/01/2010 11:47pm (5 years ago)

  • Sir,

    Name 1 Socialist republic that retains any sort of personal freedom? Do you have so little faith in the resiliancy and work ethic of Americans that you think we all need handouts and "Big Brother"? Where are your shining examples of a Socialist Republic working? I got some for you...North Korea, The "People's" Republic of China, The Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, the list goes on and on. Why can't you see that personal liberty is the way to go...I don't want any Big brother in my life...and I definitely don't want to pay your way...you sir, do not believe in freedom, and you only enjoy it because we are still somewhat of a democracy. Here's a couple of things for you to do: Read 1984, Go to Cuba and speak up...see where that gets you, and remind yourself that you are an American, not a comrade.

    Posted by Jesse , 04/06/2010 4:05pm (5 years ago)

  • There is a main conception and one that has been futility demonstrated throughout history and that is that Communism or even Socialism is a political model for the masses. I believe that the opposite is true. Communism only works within small groups, to achieve a common goal. To use either in such a way to steer such a bulky vessel, such as the US government is doing what China has already done. The important thing to remember is that the same argument can be made for democracy. It just does not work right on so broad a scale. The best plan remains to work in independent groups community by community, with all hands helping to balance the load for their community. The alternative is to socialize everything, which has the known outcome of being very corrupt and leading to totalitarianism, or; to leave the current system in place and bow down to the "real" rulers of democracy, Big Business- Democratic integrated Communism seems like the best political model for our future. I say if the corporations want to take all of our labor and import foreign junk, let them live and do business there. Just don't come back.

    Posted by Paul Sidney, 04/01/2010 10:12am (5 years ago)

  • My problem with communism is that when it comes into being, millions upon millions of people end up dead by the the hands of the communist. The end justifies the means philosophy is scary and dangerous to anyone that believes in individual rights.

    Posted by john, 03/23/2010 4:02pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments